It is easy to condemn hip-hop for the condition of our society, but as we condemn our own young people for being who they are, what role do we play in making them who they are, and what do we have to offer them as an alternative to who they are? Hip-Hop Is Not Our Enemy is an insider's critique of the Black church's role and responsibility in co-opting hip-hop culture. It is written by a Black Baptist Pastor who survived a church split that occurred because of his dedication to co-opting hip-hop culture. The final chapter serves as a how-to guide to preparing a sermon that will connect with the hip-hop generation.
In March of 2006, Memphis rap group Three Six Mafia made American history by becoming the first rap group in the Academy Awards’ seventy-eight years of presentations to be nominated for an award and perform at the Oscar ceremony. But group members DJ Paul, Juicy J, and Crunchy Black (yes, “Crunchy Black”!) did more than perform on that night’s telecast. They actually won an Oscar for Best Song in a Film for a tune entitled, “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp”, which was the theme song from the soundtrack to the movie, “Hustle & Flow”. Their victory set off a maelstrom of cultural criticism from respected Black religious leaders and others who objected vociferously to such an iconic and uniquely American honor being bestowed on this peculiar collection of young men. One local Pastor opined in a local daily newspaper in Memphis that “Three Six Mafia are pawns of the devil”, and called on his congregation to mount a “holy war” against their music. He also called on parents in his church to go home and destroy all their children’s hip-hop music by breaking their CD’s and erasing the music from their iPods. The upshot of most of the criticism was that hip-hop music is the source of most of the evils in society, particularly Black society. I beg to differ. Hip-hop is not our enemy. Hip-hop is merely one manifestation of our western culture.
Dr. Kenneth T. Whalum, Jr., though acquainted with Presidents, maintains a common touch with people who just want a leader who keeps it real! Born and raised in the inner-city of Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Whalum has dedicated his life to proclaiming social justice for the citizens of Memphis, especially those who cannot speak for themselves, our children. Dr. Whalum is a graduate of Atlanta’s Morehouse College,Philadelphia’s Temple University School of Law, and the Memphis Theological Seminary. In 2006, Memphis voters spoke with a roaring voice when Whalum won the coveted race for his current At-Large 2, Memphis City School Board Commissioner position. His charismatic personality and audacious speech regularly harvests the attention of various media outlets. In February 2008, The Memphis Flyer, a local newspaper wrote, "Whalum is the coach who gets in your face to get you fired up for the fourth quarter." "Whalum is a natural leader who is going to be a force in Memphis politics for years to come." Earnest Magazine proclaims him as a “fearless force for our people”. In 1998, at the request of Mayor Willie Herenton, Whalum produced the City of Memphis’ official 30th Anniversary Observance of the life and death of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And on April 4, 2008, Whalum’s church in conjunction with his alma mater, Morehouse, hosted the third annual Candle on the Bluff Awards Program. A program that honors the life and legacy of Dr. King, Jr. by rewarding the accomplishments of deserving leaders in Memphis. Whalum attributes much of his success to the continuous support of his wife, Sheila, who is a well respected businesswoman and author in Memphis. Kenneth and Sheila are the proud parents of three sons, Kenneth III, and Kortland, and Kameron, all of whom are professional musicians.